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“I Can’t Afford My Life Insurance Premiums. Now What?”

I can't afford my life insurance premiums

With this rough economy, I know some people are struggling to pay their bills.

If one of those bills is for life insurance, unfortunately many people simply allow their policy to lapse – which has the potential for allowing a rough financial situation to turn dire for their family.

You may be relieved to know that some of these tips do not require that you replace your current policy.

Is there a way to keep your life insurance policy when you can’t afford the premium payments?

6 Ideas on How to Keep Your Policy’s Benefits Without Breaking the Bank

1. Reduce the face value – For term and pertmanent insurance, most carriers will allow you to reduce your face value one time, which will lead to adjusted, lower premiums.

2. Reduce the premium – If you have a universal life or whole life policy with some cash value built up in it, you may be able to reduce your premium without affecting your policy’s guarantees.  Or you might be able to skip a payment or several.  In fact, some people may be able to stop making payments for years.

Even if you’ve had a term policy, you may be able to skip or stop making payments if it was issued more than 10 years ago and if you added a return of premium rider.  (Note: BE VERY CAREFUL to check on how reducing your premium will affect the policy’s guarantees.  Ask your agent or the carrier first before making any changes.)

3. Purchase less expensive policy – Term prices have been coming down.  You may be able to replace your current policy with a new one with the same benefits for lower cost.  If you have a whole life policy, how about a 1035 exchange into a less expensive guaranteed universal life policy, if applicable?

For example, many whole life insurance policy holders could cut their premiums in half by applying their cash value to a less expensive, universal life policy.  They’ll still have coverage for life, but without the high costs.  Of course, they’ll still have to be healthy to do this because they’ll have to apply for a new policy.

Compare Term Life Insurance Rates

4. Reduced Paid-Up – Some permanent policies allow you to eliminate your premium payments completely by taking a lower, paid up death benefit.  For example, you pay $1000 per year for $500,000 of coverage.  Your reduced paid-up option might give you $150,000 of coverage for the rest of your life without paying another premium. For those with the policies that will allow this, this is a great option for when you can’t afford your life insurance premium payment – for it completely eliminates it!

This is not to be confused with a life insurance conversion, which actually increases your premium.

5. Sell your policy – Another option is a life settlement (for seniors).  Why let the policy lapse or take reduced death benefit if you could sell your policy for 3 times the surrender value?  You may be able to take the life settlement amount a purchase a single premium life insurance policy with it with a higher face value than the reduced paid up amount.

6. Ask for help  – Last, what about asking your children (or whoever the beneficiaries are) to help with the premiums?

If they are ultimately to benefit from the policy, they may be willing to subsidize your premiums or take them over completely.  This especially makes sense if you’re not in great health.

Read Your Policy Thoroughly

It’s important to understand all the options and benefits within your policy if you’re struggling to pay your premiums.  Get to know the conversion options, when the level term period expires, and other benefits.  Your policy may have a long term care benefit or some other benefit associated with it you were not aware of, making the premium more palatable.


Why bother keeping my life insurance if I can’t afford it?

Many people are quick to let their life insurance policies lapse since there is often to immediate benefit to keeping them. But remember why you purchased life insurance in the first place – to care for your loved ones. If you are currently experiencing a financial burden, imagine what it will be like for them when you are gone. I highly encourage people to examine their options before simply throwing their policy away!

Can I lower premiums on my current life insurance policy?

Yes! See #’s 1, 2, and 4 above.

Which Option Should I take?

Of course, it’s best to ask a knowledgeable agent to help you decide what options are best for you in your situation.  This is by no means a comprehensive list of your options.  Your best option could very well be staying the course and continuing to pay your premiums.  Be careful to keep your policy’s guarantees in effect if you can.  Good luck, and as always, feel free to call me for help at 877-443-9467.

*Huntley Wealth Insurance and its representatives do not give legal or tax advice. Please consult your own legal or tax adviser.
Chris Huntley
Chris Huntley is the owner of Huntley Wealth Insurance, a San Diego life insurance agency. You can find him on Google + and Facebook. Over the past 8 years, Chris has consulted with over 2000 individuals about their insurance needs. He is a proud husband and father to three adorable girls.
Chris Huntley
Chris Huntley

All Comments

  1. Trust Life Settlement on February 15, 2011, 1:33 pm

    It is really important to understand how life settlements work. Many individuals have a hard time understanding that they can sell their life insurance if you can’t afford to pay for it. Companies offer great services for understanding and getting involved in life settlements.

  2. larry zellner on June 20, 2015, 2:08 pm

    great artical my term life expired two years ago i keep i t going each year they raised it about 10 dolars a month. I just sent me a notice it’s giong up 60 dollars a month it’s protective life any thoughts? Thanks, Larry

    • Chris Huntley on November 8, 2015, 3:12 pm

      Hi Larry,
      Based on age, life insurance premiums can and will steadily increase. At a certain age the increase is substantial.

  3. cheryl on April 1, 2016, 1:57 am

    i have a life insurance that i had to stop paying due to my health and had to stop working. i did contact them to try help me to do something about this but they were not very helpful. so i am now sitting with a policy that i have paid £54 a month for 8years and dont know what to do

    • Chris Huntley on April 2, 2016, 4:21 pm

      If the premiums lapse due to non-payment, the policy will be cancelled.

  4. Jay on May 27, 2016, 3:47 pm

    I started Term to Life 90 coverage in 2008 and premiums are $60 per month. My understanding was that the rates would go up after 10 years. I recently received a notice that I have “enhanced conversion credit” to convert to Whole Life which was about to expire by June 10th of this year – 2016.

    I am confused because I though if needed, I could convert before the 10 years were up – that would not be before 2018.

    I am 56 now.

    Is it worth taking advantage of this enhanced conversion credit or is this a way to get me to sign up to Whole Life with higher premiums?

    Thank you for your help.

    • Kimberly Ely on September 16, 2016, 12:29 pm

      Whole Life is a rip off! Don’t do it!

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